RSA Project in Power, Place, and Publics

“Rhetorical Cartographies of the
UNR Campus Master Plan”

University of Nevada, Reno, May 20-23, 2019


Lynda Walsh
Catherine J. Chaput
Amy Pason


Reflections on the Inaugural RSA Project, Reno 2019

We call to the Society’s attention, as we do RSA’s digital Conference proceedings, the following publication, as a means of sharing the exciting work of our members on display at RSA events and to better familiarize you with the outcome of our inaugural Project.

The reflects on the Rhetoric Society of America's inaugural Project, which convened in Reno, Nevada in May 2019. Guest Editors Catherine Chaput, Amy Pason, and Lynda Olman explain how the "Project on Power, Place, and Publics" emerged from the recent turn toward rhetorical fieldwork and from an interest in alternative scholarly meetings. In an excerpt from his plenary address, John Ackerman considers how planning documents, such as campus master plans, further settler colonialism in the present moment. Project participants share excerpts from their time in Reno, describe the experience of undertaking fieldwork as part of an ad hoc collective, and discuss the challenges of public-facing scholarly conversations. 

The Project in Power, Place, and Publics is a new initiative by RSA to engage the teaching of rhetorical theories with kairos. In the summer of 2019, eight working groups of 25 participants each, facilitated by senior rhetorical scholars and community liaisons, will gather to address a particular exigence in a specific setting.

For the inaugural Project, that specific setting will be the University of Nevada, Reno, and the exigence, its recent Campus Master Plan (CMP), which outlines an ambitious expansion into the surrounding city over the next six years as well as a plan to redevelop those liminal urban areas—named the Gateway Precinct and the University District in the CMP—as hybrid university/commercial/public spaces. 

To prepare to work in the Gateway Precinct and University district, participants in the Project will read the CMP and rhetorical theory relevant to the theme of their working group. Then, over the three-and-a-half-days of the project, they will apply the theory in a series of discussions and activities that will yield a rhetorical cartography (working from Ronald Greene’s concept as well as the concept of the “story map”) of the Gateway Precinct and the CMP. This cartography will be presented in a final symposium to UNR and City of Reno officials. 

The Project’s keynote will be presented by John Ackerman, who has been at the forefront of pushing rhetoricians to be more critical and aware of the ways in which they are recruited to university “civic engagement” efforts. RSA’s electronic communication officer, Casey Boyle, and public relations officer, Jen Malkowski, will help working groups assemble the final multilayered rhetorical cartography, which will be hosted on RSA’s website for future study and application. The working groups are as follows:

  1. Precarious Economies, Ronald Walter Greene
  2. Disability and Accessibility, Amy Vidali
  3. Pedagogy and Community Literacy, David Coogan
  4. Memory and Lost Communities, Jenny Rice
  5. Understanding Deep Roots, Jacqueline Royster
  6. Visual and Material Rhetorics of the City, Laurie Gries
  7. Indigenous Publics, Angela Haas
  8. Environmental Justice, Bridie McGreavy

Please click below for a PDF version of the RSA Project information:

RSA 2019 Project Flyer